The European Union strengthens the authorized economic operator in customs procedures


The AEO offers advantages in terms of process simplification and business excellence in Member States

The new Union Customs Code simplifies and regulates customs declarations

The figure of the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) has been enhanced and has acquired more relevance in customs procedures, particularly since the Union Customs Code (UCC) came into force last year. The AEO is a security guarantee within the international trade supply chains.

This was one of the main conclusions of the experts at the seminar on AEO and the new UCC, held at the Cuatrecasas Barcelona office. The session brought together partners specializing in logistics and customs, the inspectorate of the official agency of the Spanish tax authorities (AEAT) and representatives from important companies in the sector, including Evonik, Flamagas, Indukern and Operplus. Between operators and other professionals, almost a hundred people attended the event.

More advantages for the AEO

The AEO benefits from direct and indirect advantages, especially regarding process simplification, reducing red tape and mutual recognition by the customs authorities in the different EU countries.

Tax Agency inspector Felipe Rodrigo reviewed some of the advantageous implementations for operators, with the application of the new UCC, such as simplified and uniform customs procedures. He pointed out that operators will also benefit from other solutions, including centralized clearance that enables companies to operate in many jurisdictions from one point.

Proof that the AEO are gaining popularity is that there are now over 15,000 operators in Europe, almost 700 of which are in Spain. According to figures provided by AEAT, an Authorized Economic Operator intervenes in four out of every five Spanish customs procedures.

Customs declaration: special requirements

Francisco Cavero, coordinating partner of the Cuatrecasas Logistics and Transport Group, highlighted the special requirements to become an AEO and the special UCC regimes. According to Cavero, the operator must be highly qualified with proven experience in complying with customs and tax regulations, as well as possess financial solvency. Compliance has motivated much of the renewed UCC, which is aimed at avoiding certain undesirable behavior in international trade. He also stressed the optimization that can be obtained by applying some special regimes.

Next, Nuria Nicolau, partner of the Cuatrecasas Logistics and Transport Group and the Tax Litigation Group, focused her talk on the customs declaration and certain procedural questions of the new UCC. One of the main points was the customs debt and its post-clearance, with an analysis of the possible exceptions to the duty of liquidation, such as repayment or remission.

In short, the UCC provides certain mechanisms to limit the payment of import duties to situations compatible with upholding the fundamental principle of protecting the legitimate expectations of the importer acting in good faith.

The event concluded with a round table by experts from the sector, with Isabel Fano, counsel at Cuatrecasas; Antonio Abril, head of logistics at Evonik; Alfonso Aguado, head of customs at Flamagas; Javier Delgado, global operations director at Indukern; and F. Miguel Rocher, managing partner at Operplus, who moderated the panel.

The professionals shared their experience in customs procedures from a comprehensive perspective, as economic operators and goods managers. They all made the case for strengthening the profile of the AEOs, according them more advantages, especially in the context of international trade where agility should have priority but also reliability and security.